Scream Queens “Black Friday” Review (Season 1 Episode 11)

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On the next-to-last episode before the grand finale of “Scream Queens,” it was “Black Friday” time, and hell hath no fury like women denied their rights to shop till they drop. But would all of them be left standing in the end? Surprisingly, given Ryan Murphy’s dictate that at least one character would die per episode, the answer was a resounding yes.

I suppose, if one wants to get technical, there was a security guard that might have been killed, but it was not a character we even remotely knew, nor one with a heavy connection to one we did, a la a family member, or someone closely connected to the case and/or the main characters, so that hardly seems like it should count, really. It might sound a bit callous to be disappointed that someone didn’t die on a show you like, but remember the show we’re talking about here and you see my point.

Sadly, the overall disappointment spread to the episode as a whole in general, making for the worst episode of the series since “Mommie Dearest,” though it wasn’t quite as bad as that one. Like that episode, though, there was a lot of padding, and not nearly as much funny stuff as one has come to expect from the show, which is unfortunate.

Many have speculated that the show would have done better to clock in around ten episodes, rather than the given thirteen, and in retrospect, as much as I’ve enjoyed the show overall, I’m inclined to agree. I think had they gone that route, it would have streamlined the show that much more and effectively gotten rid of a lot of filler in the process.

At the same time, maybe it also would have forced them to create more economical characterization which gave everyone more chances to shine and perhaps more-concentrated back-stories. Not that the show hasn’t blared through a lot in that regard, but I actually would have liked to have gotten a little more on the main characters at hand than we got as it was.

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Perhaps if they get another season, they can minimize the amount of characters, thus making it easier to focus on a core group, not unlike the “Scream” series of MTV. Having covered both shows, I can say that, while the final dénouement of that show was a little disappointing, “Scream” did manage to pack in a solid amount of characterization into the proceedings.

“Scream Queens,” on the other hand, has always favored style over substance, which is fine, as I knew exactly what the show was early on: basically “Heathers/Mean Girls”-meets-an old-school slasher movie. Given that it was more or less what I expected going in, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fun show, if admittedly a total cartoon, and if it does end up being a one-and-done sort of thing, then I can’t say I was disappointed by it on the whole, no matter how it ends.

That said, there are a multitude of ways the show could have been better, and if they do get another stab at it, hopefully they will rectify those problems going forward. I do hope that certain characters are still left standing at the end, though I suspect not all of them will be ones we want to be, i.e. Grace. (More on her in a minute.)

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As for this episode, I thought going in, we were going to get a variation of one of the more entertaining slasher types: the mall-set slasher, a la “Chopping Mall,” “Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge,” or “The Initiation.” While slightly dated at this point- I don’t even have a mall in my area anymore, unless you count strip malls, which I don’t- it was still a potentially fun prospect, but alas, it only ended up counting for a small fraction of the episode.

The girls easily evaded being locked in the mall after hours for long- a little too easily, IMHO- and would have emerged completely unscathed, had Chanel not opted, somewhat unwisely, to confront the Red Devil (or Devils, as it would still seem that there are more than one, after all, despite Boone’s death). Thankfully, though a stupid move on her part, we had the triumphant, if brief return of Denise (Niecy Nash) to save her proverbial bacon, though Chanel did end up with an arrow through her shoulder for her troubles.

Denise, as it turns out, has graduated from security guard to chief of police (!) since we last saw her, managing to finesse her way onto the force proper in lieu of the full-on upheaval of nearly the entire precinct, after most everyone was fired for bungling the serial killer case, including Detective Chisolm (Jim Klock), who apparently blew through most of the force’s budget with his hiring of the ghostbuster a few weeks back.

In typical Denise style, she spent so much time blabbing that, by her own admission, the killer (or killers) got away in the process. Alas, this was Denise’s only appearance this episode, so her fans will just have to wait until the finale to see what shenanigans she gets up to next.

While part of me gets the criticisms that her character is a bit too broad and even a little borderline offensive, the fact is, I like what Nash brings to the table (full disclosure: I was a big “Reno 911” fan), and part of me is hoping she makes it out alive, even though I know a lot of people feel differently.

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Likewise, another major subplot on the episode was the girls banding together to off who they saw as the real killer: Dean Munsch. Obviously, as a slasher movie icon, you don’t really want to see Jamie Lee Curtis taken out, even if her character is pretty mean to all concerned. But then again, most everyone is mean to everyone else- hell, last week Wes accused his own daughter of being one of the killers, even as he was dating one of them! Awkward!

But, in an amusing, if unrealistic twist, she proved to have an almost Rasputin-like quality to NOT dying, despite some valiant efforts on the girls’ parts to do so. Naturally, the show acknowledged this in a spiel of Hester’s, not one to let a reference to go unnoticed without bashing it over the head.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is nothing if not a slasher movie as a cartoon, and bashing things over the heads over and over again is what you do in a cartoon, so of course they explained it.

To wit, they tried poisoning her, freezing her in a cryogenic spa (!), and intended to try and chain her up and drown her, had the girls not flaked on Chanel at the end, much to her disappointment, leading her to compose another vicious missive in their general direction, the contents of which we’ll just have to wait and see about until next week.

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I initially thought the cryogenic thing was like a spoof of like, the whole freezing people’s heads thing, a la Disney, but it turns out that’s an actual thing, though I imagine it’s a bit more regimented and looked after than we see here, I’m just guessing. (They did sneak in a “T2” reference, though.)

We also had some silliness involving Pete and Chad, who read “dead gay” Boone’s will to a mostly vacant Dickie Dollar Scholar’s meeting, as Chad was literally the only one left standing at this point. It turned out that Boone had been spying on the frat on Pete’s behalf, as an inside source, which had led him to leave a host of ridiculous items (including a bedazzled butt plug!) to him that continued to make Chad convinced Boone was actually gay, which, as we now know, he was not.

This sequence was by far the funniest overall, and I selected a number of choice quotes from it below, including one from the flashback sequence, in which we learned that Pete had attempted to infiltrate the frat previously, only to be turned down flat, due to his lack of knowledge about golf, dubious workout habits and disinterest in John Mayer. (Lol- nice touch there, writers.)

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So, it goes without saying that the primary suspect here was actually not Dean Munsch, who we already know is innocent of being one of the core three involved, being as how they attacked her at one point. Instead, it was Pete, who, it was heavily implied, was in fact the other Red Devil in on it with Boone.

However, was he really, or did he simply disguise himself with the costume we all knew he had, having figured out about Gigi’s involvement- and Boone’s death- in order to avenge him and kill Gigi, which would explain why he never talked to her or took off the mask in that scene in “Thanksgiving”?

After all, we know they were working together, so it wouldn’t be a stretch that Boone would have told him about Gigi’s involvement, as we already know he wanted to get rid of her. Unfortunately for Boone, Gigi got there first via her accomplice, so I think Pete arranged a meet at that hotel, and then killed Gigi to avenge him.

If true, that means there is still another Devil running around out there besides Pete, and that one is still remaining true to whatever diabolical revenge plan Gigi had cooked up, before being, um, cooked up herself. I also think that this murder is what Pete was about to confess in that last scene with him and Grace when he told her he was a murderer.

I think that, like Dean Munsch before him, he did murder someone, but I don’t think that he is THE murderer, as in the one who killed everyone else beyond Gigi and Munsch’s husband. Like hers, his was a murder of opportunity that he took advantage of, and already feels bad about, hence his warnings to Grace not to go down that path, and of the toll it takes if you do.

The show obviously wants you to think he did it, given his rant against the DDSs, but while I think his discern for the frat was genuine, I don’t think he actually went so far as to kill all of them off. I just think he wasn’t too upset that they were gone, period, and won’t be losing any sleep over it. That said, I do think he felt bad about his role in getting Boone involved with them in the first place, but I don’t think he knew until recently (as revealed in “Thanksgiving”) that Boone was, in fact, Wes’ son.

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I think that revelation is why he and Wes are currently working together, trying to figure out who Gigi’s final co-conspirator was. I’m still going to maintain that the remaining Red Devil is a female, and that it’s not Pete or Wes. This being the last episode before the finale, I’m going to go with Chanel #5 as my main suspect. Her behavior is the most erratic, Hester notwithstanding, and, of all the girls, she seems the most underutilized, and you don’t hire an Oscar nominated actress if you’re not going to give her some heavy lifting to do at some point.

Note also that the show made a big to-do about her size, thus implying that, of all the girls, she’s a bit more imposing, and thus, could easily fill out the costume. Yes, I know the Devil attacked the girls in the mall and that Chanel #5 was there, but I think that was either Pete or Wes, having had quite enough of the lot of them.

Likely it was Pete, given his guilty actions and words later on. Note also that Grace wasn’t there at the time, and neither was her bestie Zayday, neither of whom Pete (or Wes, for that matter) would have anything against. I still think the remaining Devil is a girl, and I’m betting on it being Breslin’s character, personally. Runner up would be Chanel #3. Hester isn’t an impossibility, but she’s been so wacky throughout that it would almost be too obvious, I think.

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That was about it, really, beyond Grace being Grace, which is to say, super-annoying. I’m sorry, I know she’s the primary obvious choice for being the Final Girl standing, but if I have to listen to her speechify about sisterhood one more time, I’m going to buy a Red Devil costume and go after her myself. It wouldn’t be so bad if her rants were funny, but they’re just maudlin and sappy and they go on and on and on. Please, make “Jack Skellington” stop. Red Devil, are you listening?

All in all, this was a bit of a major comedown from the last few weeks, making it more of a filler episode, like the aforementioned “Mommie Dearest” and to a slightly lesser extent, “Beware of Young Girls.” That’s too bad, as the last episodes, “Ghost Stories” and “Thanksgiving” were so much fun and had a lot of forward momentum, which I assumed would continue into the finale. Unfortunately, such was not the case, so hopefully, they will end strong.

80’s songs of choice this episode: The Bangles “Hazy Shade of Winter” and The Waitresses’ “Wrapping Paper,” which are both hands down, two of my favorite Christmas time classics, so good on you “Scream Queens” for that, at least.

As per usual, I end with my fave quotes of the episode. Take it away, Chanel and company!

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Favorite Quotes:

Chanel: “Black Friday is about buying deliberately cheap, totally forgettable Christmas gifts for friends. The obvious cheapness of the gifts makes them question our friendship and makes them way easier to manipulate, as they try desperately to get back on my good side. Then, once I’ve bought them a crap gift that will undermine our friendship, I reward myself with an amazing gift for me.”

Chanel: “Shut up, # 5, when you agree with me, it makes me question whether I agree with me.”

Chanel, summing up “Black Friday” perfectly: “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to the mall, to exercise our patriotic right to join hundreds of thousands of our fellow out-of-breath Americans in sweatpants, as they make frenzied, ill-thought-out purchases of cheap, crappy garbage they can’t afford and don’t need. To deny us of that right would be un-American.”

Chanel, to #3, on her potential present choices: “Should I get #5 a pair of 99-cent brass studs that’ll turn her earlobes green and give her an infection or a pair of $1.99 danglies that will get caught in her sweater and tear her earholes?”
Chanel #5: “Ok, you know what? You guys, I don’t understand why you have to get us the crappiest gifts possible and then make sure we know about it beforehand, just to ruin the surprise.”
Chanel: “Um, hello? The surprise is that you’re getting anything at all. You guys should be happy you’re even on my radar.”

Chanel: “Oh my God, maybe I’ve got this whole Black Friday thing wrong. Maybe, instead of using my disgusting wealth to buy my friends crap, I should use my disgusting wealth to buy my friends something they would actually enjoy.” (And her heart grew three sizes that day…)

Chad, on Boone’s will: “You do not bequeath a shoebox full of lube to an acquaintance, Pete Martinez!”
Pete: “He was my ‘Deep Throat’.”
Chad: “So, you were gay lovers.”

Chad: “Look, I’m going to be honest with you, you are the worst Dickie Dollar Scholar pledge candidate I’ve ever seen…you don’t know anything about golf, and you don’t even own John Mayer’s debut album, ‘Room for Squares’ which makes a lot of sense, given the fact that you don’t even have a rad ab routine. Your body, Pete Martinez, is NOT a wonderland.”

Chanel #3, reporting back to Chanel on whether Dean Munsch was dead yet: “The woman at the Dianas Memorial Hospital said they only admitted one person into the ER all night, but it was some dude who needed help getting a LEGO figure out of his rectum.”
Chanel: “What an idiot.”
Chanel #3: “It was Chad Radwell…the nurse said he told her he usually does his nightly nude yoga before he sets a perimeter of LEGO characters to guard his bed when he sleeps, but this time he decided to do it after and sat on a LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow.”
Chanel: “That’s the weirdest explanation for anything I’ve ever heard.”

Chanel, to Chanel #5 after asking her for insight on why Dean Munsch survived their latest murder attempt and getting the description of a classic 80’s movie: “You’re thinking of the movie ‘Teen Wolf,’ you brainless gash, which is not, in fact, a documentary!”

Hester, to an employee, after refusing to switch out the size tags on some lingerie to a smaller size for Chanel #5: “Can’t? Can’t do what? Your job? This is discrimination….Make her happy! She has nothing. She’s a terrible person. Look at her! Give her something. Give her something to be happy about!”

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So, what did you think of “Black Friday”? Did you also wish they spent more time in the mall, or are you glad it was truncated? Did you also think the whole killing Dean Munsch subplot was a bit, um, Munsch? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Who do you think the remaining Devil is? Am I right about Pete? Who do you think will be left standing in the end? Who do you HOPE will be left standing in the end? Sound off on this and more down below, as ever.

Well, that about does it for this week. Join me next week for the big two part, two-hour finale, in which we see if they can actually bring this puppy down for a landing in a way that makes sense, or if it will crash and burn on impact. Fingers crossed for the former! See you then!